Every year, ADG Europe and TNT Britain present a brilliant performance of an English play in Spain. We always look forward to their creative productions, so we have been attending their shows for quite a few years now. This time, however, we decided to broaden our horizons and pay them a visit in the land of our friendly neighbours, Portugal. On Thursday, 30th November 2017, more than 50 students of 4º ESO and 1º Bachillerato along with their teachers Elvira and Maite set off for Oporto at 7 am with the intention of rejoicing in one of Charles Dickens’ most famous plays of all times, Oliver Twist.
The journey took us longer than we had expected, so we had to rush out of the coach into the Romantic Gardens of the Crystal Palace. We went past the imposing Rosa Mota Pavilion and got into the Almeida Garret Municipal Library just in time to sit and watch the dramatic opening scene of Fagin standing on the gallows with the hangman’s noose around his neck awaiting execution.
But shortly before the rope strangled him, the villain attempted to justify his criminal deeds. Even though Fagin admitted to being the leader of a gang of petty robbers, he accused the respectable but hypocritical Mr Brownlow of being the real criminal who led his poor grandson, Oliver, to a life of crime in order to survive in the cruel Victorian society.
Agnes gives birth to Oliver in the workhouse
The troupe of actors didn’t disappoint us. They gripped the young audience’s attention and gave them food for thought by placing them in the moral dilemma of whether Fagin deserved to be hanged or he was, like the children thieves, a victim of society.
Oliver is brutally ill treated by a policeman. Although Mr Brownlow insists Oliver was not the thief, the police officer keeps kicking him
The troupers acted exceptionally and sang to the music following the tradition of the Victorian popular theatre. After their stunning performance we left the theatre thinking that this engaging socio-critical 90-minute play with its black English humor was unmissable and well worth watching it.
Oliver runs away from the sordid workhouse and meets the Artful Dodger on his way to London
The bus driver dropped us in front of the Stock Exchange Palace at the Infante D Henrique Square. We hardly had time to see the Statue of Prince Henry the Navigator, who initiated the Portuguese Age of Discovery. We went past the Church of San Francis, the most prominent Gothic monument in Porto.
Oporto’s mild sunny weather allowed us to enjoy Portuguese cod delicacies listening to the music of the street buskers in the Ribeira area next to the Douro River.
After lunch, we went up the steep stairs to enjoy the excellent panoramic views from the Dom Luis I Bridge, whose arch is still considered to be the world's biggest one in forged iron.
The Cathedral of Porto is a Romanesque church built in the 12th and 13th centuries. Just outside there is an Equestrian statue of Vimara Peres, the first ruler of Portugal.The beautiful historic centre of Porto with the medieval borough located inside the 14th-century Romanesque wall was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996.
At the Sāo Bento Railway Station on Almeida Garrett Square we admired the vestibule, which is adorned with 20,000 tiles painted by Jorge Colaço that illustrate the evolution of transports as well as scenes from Portuguese life and history.We could not leave Porto without doing some shopping, so we headed for the Rua Santa Catarina, the pedestrian street in the buzzing heart of Porto, which is lined with beautiful Art Nouveau buildings, plus a huge selection of shops, restaurants, patisseries and cafés.
Some students decided to give themselves a treat at the famous Café Majestic, renowned for its opulent Belle-Epoque style décor from 1921.
Finally the bus driver picked us up at Praça da Batalha
In the background above we can see the church of Santo Ildefonso.
In the background below we can see the National Theatre Sao Joao.
An so we left this unique, hospitable and cosmopolitan city, one of the oldest and most beautiful in Europe, the Invincible City of Porto.